Varian Sigmund - Outskirts of Curilan, Ethora
It had been a good seven days of travel across the flat plains of Ethora. There was not much in terms of scenery other than a few hills and green other broken down fortresses. Their path took them along one of the main roads north, a dirt road which was often the path of traders and other merchants seeking passage between Dalenham and Curilan, and so it was not unusual to see a few of them along that route. Varian figured it would be best to stay along the road for the bulk of their journey, thereby avoiding any unnecessary squabbles that would undoubtedly happen should they stray too far off. After all, poverty brought desperation, and though he didn't fear the low-lives who would try to put a sword against him, neither did he wish for such an altercation. Besides, the trade route would likely have brought a chance to do business. Varian managed to deal with a trader a few days back, picking up a few commodities for a cheap price. It was one of the few things you could expect in Ethora: you may not acquire items of quality, but you're sure to get the cheapest price around.
But eventually, as he followed the marked map of the merchant, they found taking the last leg of their journey off of the road, and into the green plains, as they made their way to the fort located a ways west of Curilan. Eventually, Varian signaled for a halt of the company, double-checking the map once more as he climbed the hill in front of him, falling down to his arms and knees, and crawling to the top, to keep cover. He motioned for the others to do the same. Varian crawled to the top, the blades of grass scratching at his elbows with each push, but doing nothing more than tickling him as he passed over. When he reached the top, he saw it.
In the valley below, an old fort stood at the corner of a cliff, and below the cliff the lush valley of the Ethorian countryside was in full view. The bandits had certainly picked a nice spot to nestle up. But the condition of the fort was another matter. Moss had begun to cling to the sides of the ruined fort, and parts of the building had already began to crumble. The front gate was either destroyed or had been removed, and wood was supporting a few of the walls to ensure it didn't collapse. Observing the immediate surrounding area, there wasn't many places to hide upon approach, besides a few large rocks and perhaps one side of the fort which might be a partial blind spot. However, that might involve stepping too close to the cliff. Varian double-checked the map once more to be sure this was the place, but he was fairly certain: this was the bandit fort.
He scanned over the ruined hideout. The bandits seemed to hide their presence fairly well, obviously intent on not attracting attention to themselves. The positioning of the fort, and the fact that it was so far away from the main road meant that few people would travel far enough to tell if anyone inhabited it. For those who did, they would likely not venture inside, for fear of the collapse of the building on top of them. But he had some experience in forts. He could tell the signs when people were around. For example, the woodwork that was placed on the sides of the fort was recent, to ensure that the wall did not fall. This meant someone was intent on keeping it that way. Certainly the Ethorian government didn't have any more use for the thing. There didn't seem to be anyone around on the outside, which led him to deduce that the bulk of the 20-30 bandits were inside, underground. That probably was where the daughter of the merchant was being kept as well.
Varian turned over on his back as he addressed the other mercenaries laid out next to him. He spoke in a hushed voice, to avoid being heard by the bandits. "Looks like no scouts outside. The fuckers are all hiding underneath. We know what to do. Be careful of collapsing walls. When someone finds the girl, signal the rest. Take out anyone you see inside."
Sir Roland Grey - Outside the Fallen Temple, Miracia
"The village of Zinfell should be over this hill if I am reading this map right," Roland muttered as he looked up from his map purchased from the port town. It had been two days of traveling on horseback through the forests of Miracia. The Knights of Ekilore had kept quiet for most of the journey, though Roland occassionally argued Ethorian politics with Kace for parts of the journey. Roland was actually impressed with Kace's insight for his age. He was certainly a more learned man than Roland originally gave him credit for. Not enough to tell it to his face, but enough to take note of it. Estallir had pointed the group to the village of Zinfell, saying it was closest landmark to the temple. Also, the village had experienced a recent surge of raids by the creations of the stone, having been the victims of all sorts of unspeakable creations. Roland had spurned his horse to a gallop taking a more dramatic lead. In a few short moments, the Knights found themselves with the village directly in front of them, and just passed that, on the hill behind it, the fabled temple.
Sadly, Zinfell was not as homely as Roland had hoped for. From the vantage point, Roland could see the ruins of a once peaceful rural village. Black clouds of smoke rose from the burnt rubble of small homes and huts. The surrounding farms drained from any life. The dirt roads that Roland followed to the center of village were soaked with blood. Bodies littered the streets. Some were of once living elves. Others were of monsters. Foul creatures with off-colored skin and coarse teeth. Things that Roland believed only lived in fairy tales.
"Gods, what has happened here?" Roland muttered under his breath, as he pulled into the village, even his horse giving some resistance to enter. As Roland dismounted his stirring horse in the village, his eyes caught sight of the temple in front of them. It was... ominous, to say the very least. It gave Roland a sickly feeling, as if it didn't belong in the surrounding environment. Then, he heard screams coming from the temple. Yelling from villagers as they were taken into the temple, and other sounds, unnatural sounds, as figures made their way out of the temple gates in front of them. "Something comes!" He cried out, and unsheathed his sword.
Roland took a stand in the center of the gate, swallowing his nervousness. It was the mystery of what he was bound to encounter that unnerved him. That mystery, however, was evaporated by surprise... and fear. The large wave of beasts came forth. And Roland's mouth gaped open as the creatures approached. Dark, hideous, hellish creatures marched forward. Undead humans slid their decaying feet across the ground, with all kinds of rotting flesh pouring onto the ground. Large imposing ghouls with sharp fangs dashed on all fours at the head of the pack, while skeletons of former warriors with rusty blades brought up the rear. Strange abominations with body parts of various creatures and monsters blended into the army. Seemingly leading this pack of creatures was a fat monstrosity with bloody fluids spewing all over the ground as he dragged his giant body around. With a roar of the vile beast, the entire army charged forward.